In DFW, political endorsements are meaningless

Greg_Abbott-cropped-proto-custom_28By Alan Bean

The Dallas Morning News has endorsed Greg Abbott, a right wing zealot who makes Rick Perry look like Bill Clinton, for governor.  You’ll never guess why.

The editorial board admitted that they side with Democrat Wendy Davis on all the issues that matter (education, transportation, immigration etc.) but gave the nod to Mr. Abbott because . . .

for all her progressive promise, and alignment with this newspaper on many issues, Texas cannot afford to provoke the kind of partisan stalemate [a Wendy Davis] victory would probably bring, much like the gridlock that has paralyzed Washington. As much as Texas needs to counterbalance its GOP hard-liners, we fear Davis would only invigorate them.

Alternatively, Greg Abbott can bring balance to Texas-style conservatism . . . if that’s what he is inclined to do.

Except that isn’t what Abbott is inclined to do and everybody knows it.  Abbott has sided with the extreme right on every conceivable issue: refusing to expand Medicaid, cutting education, taking a seal-the-border approach to immigration, teaching patriotic blather as history in the public schools, and an open-carry response to gun violence.

Greg Abbott, a man who marches in lockstep with the conservative zealots the DMN deplores, will avoid legislative gridlock;but only because he shares their values.

The Dallas paper argues that only conservatives can function effectively in Austin because progressive policies are toxic in the Lone Star State.  They are willing to abandon this line of reasoning only in races pitting a Democrat with strong bipartisan credentials (Leticia Van de Putte, for example) is running against a reckless, ethically challenged and mean-spirited Tea Party opponent (Dan Patrick, par example).

It’s a game of rock, paper, scissors, but with a twist.  Rule number 1: Moderate Republicans are preferable to Democrats of any description.  Rule number 2: Anybody is preferable to the hated Tea Party.  Rule number 3: if it looks like the Tea Party guy has a big lead, rule number 2 doesn’t apply.

Here’s the ugly truth: neither the Fort Worth Star-Telegram nor the Dallas Morning News makes endorsements on the basis of merit.  Intelligence, common decency, education, experience and temperament are secondary considerations. The ultimate choice is dictated by the perceived predilections of the readership.  Since most readers are believed to be moderately conservative white people, their preferences carry the day.

DFW editorial boards will hold their noses and reinforce the political status quo unless the stench is really, really bad.  It matters little that the editorial board agrees with Wendy Davis on virtually every issue while disagreeing with Mr. Abbott.  So long as Mr. Abbott refrains from egregious partisan posturing, he will get the nod.  If most white people think Wendy Davis is too liberal for Texas, our editorial board’s don’t dare disagree.

Journalistic cynicism this profound makes political endorsements meaningless.